When Chandeep Singh Sudan lost both of his arms in a deadly electric shock measuring almost 11,000 volts at age 11, he feared he’d never walk again. Ten years later, he is able to walk, run, and yes, skate — what looked like a tragedy ended up becoming a new way of life for him!
Today, he is a national-level skater and holds a world record for the fastest 100-meters para-skating in an impressive 13.95 seconds. There was a lot of uphill battle he has had that many don’t have as a young child, but his determination to rise above the challenges has seen all odds bow down in front of him. Like most kids in the neighbourhood, little Chandeep had always evinced a great deal of interest in sports.
“Before amputation, I was very active in sports. I would participate in various school competitions, including football and athletics. But after losing both my arms, I started looking for other games. That’s how I took up skating in 2011,” Chandeep said.
With both arms amputated, Chandeep could see his world crashing down in pieces. Who knew that his indomitable grit will be taking him places? He slowly sidled up to greatness in his own sweet time, letting it wash over him, while he ensured that he did not lose faith. It suffices to say that only a few could have predicted just how integral he would become to the narrative of skating competitions for the disabled.
When all hope seemed lost, Chandeep’s family was determined to keep him active. “My family was my biggest pillar of strength. They kept encouraging me, they said that ‘they would always be by my side no matter what’. I was told to pursue all that I wish to do in my life. I had complete support. Besides my family, there were friends who never made me feel that I had lost anything in life,” he revealed.
However, the journey hasn’t always been smooth for the aspiring electrical engineer. Chandeep had a slew of difficult decisions to make when he began skating but isn’t that what makes his pursuit all the more worthwhile? Definitely, yes. “It wasn’t easy to learn balance on skating without my arms. Somewhere down the road while skating, you fall down. But with hours of practice and training, I got used to it. Now it seems much easier,” he said.
Chandeep, wise beyond his years, possess a certain sense of calmness and the aura is sure to rub off on you. “I had developed a mindset to never give up. My family and friends had a big role to play in my journey. If you ask me where I have drawn my inspiration from, it would be them. They have done so much for me, I always thought I should do something in return to make them feel proud. Nothing was lost after all. Further motivation came from Milkha Singh Sir, he helped me to be mentally and financially strong,” said a visibly enthusiastic Chandeep.
His success story, not out of competitive ingenuity, but out of sheer determination, is all down to the will to succeed. Eager to achieve more, he took up taekwondo. He has won two gold medals for the country at the Kimunyong Cup Taekwondo Championship event in South Korea. Besides, he won two gold medals each at the Asian Taekwondo Championship in Vietnam and International Taekwondo Championship in Nepal.
Disabled sportspeople, long relegated to the shadows in India, have now come to find themselves hog the limelight. What this new-found identity has done is to highlight the ambitions of differently-abled athletes like Chandeep, and their ability to overcome all metaphoric hurdles that get in their way.
His story is not just one of an athlete fighting against all odds to emerge a winner. It’s the story of an ordinary human succeeding against odds that the average human being can’t even comprehend. Never give up!